The other day I wrote about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is when worry occurs more or less constantly to the point where it interferes with ones ability to function. Two of the primary symptoms are worrying a lot about everyday things even if there is little or no reason to worry about them and knowing you worry much more than you should.
The second part is easy to figure out. People with GAD know they worry too much. In fact, they worry about worrying. Even without family and friends telling them they are champion worriers, they intrinsically know there is a problem.
It’s the first symptom – worrying with no reason to worry – that becomes problematic.
It’s normal to worry about some things. Not necessarily healthy, but normal. At what point do everyday anxieties and cares become illogical?
The short answer is when it interferes with ones ability to function. Most of us catch ourselves worrying about something, evaluate our concern as unreasonable or out of proportion and shake it off. “Don’t worry, be happy” is a mantra that actually works for us. But a few can’t stop worrying. Admonitions to “be anxious for nothing” (coming from someone who has never struggled with the inability to stop unreasonable or illogical worries) serve only to add to the discomfort. “Oh great”, someone with GAD might think, “Now I’m worried about not being spiritual”.
I’m not suggesting we avoid the spiritual side of worry. I am suggesting we have a little compassion when we quote scripture (or Bobby McFerrin – not that they have the same degree of authority). Give people the tools they need – teach them how to “take every thought captive” before handing out our advice.